Technology – Boon or Bane???

Very cold and misty monday morning..Having put my pot of tea to boil, I settle down with a laptop to check my emails and inadvertently I land up on one of the more famous social networking sites.. Presto!! I have some b’day alerts, some people have shared some very beautiful pictures and someone’s had a kid recently.. I too adhere to the ritual, click on a few likes and few leave a few wishes and congratulatory messages…

The pot is yet to boil, but my mind seems to have gone into an overtime boil.. After exiting that place, I feel a void, an incomplete, incomprehensible, personal empty feeling. Is this the way the world is shaping up? Is Technology meant to connect people or alienate people? What is the real purpose of the connected world technology?

A few generations back (read a few years ago .. not more than 5 years), we used “call” friends on a wonderful invention called the mobile phone.. Chat for a few mins… If someone had a baby, call up, land up in the hospital, cuddle the little angel from god, load up the room with flowers and presents… Catch up with someone from an earlier life.. This was fun… Now… sit in one remote corner of your home (maybe sitting on the toilet for all I care) and send some customary robotic messages… Yuck… this sucks…

Where did the personal touch go??? Loading up videos, photos on these sites helps to show that something is happening… but if there is no human touch.. it doesn’t matter if my friend is next door or on the moon..The distance between us is constant.. One Click!!!

The only feeling left out is aroma which I guess is not too far away from being digitized. I have a vague remembrance that the same was achieved and I guess it’s waiting for an explosive launch and subsequent adoption.. Guess one can smell the aroma of a pickle from Gandhi Bazaar in Bangalore sitting in Alaska, US. Wow Mom… you sure have made some wonderful pickle.. Smells great… Click.. done…

Honestly, I may be from a very ancient old school or maybe I am growing old…But I still prefer the human connection.. if we can’t take 5 mins of our life to wish our friends on their joyous occasions or be with them physically in their moments of despair.. I guess we have failed as human beings.. God created man to spread his message of love and compassion… I sincerely hope it’s not to click..

Technology is meant to aid  a human being and not drive them apart. It should enable a blind person to experience a world that he/she may not have the chance to do so. It should enable a kid sitting in a remote village to know what is happening half way across the globe in Michigan, US. It should give an opportunity for a lot of not-so-privileged people to aim and lead a more comfortable life. The biggest example that one can see is in India. The socio-demographic change imparted by the technological revolution has made a lot of lives much better than one could have imagined, say a couple of decades ago.

The choice is ours… wonder which one we will Click…

Influence of human speech

its only words
and words are all I have …
to take your heart away”

So goes the lyrics from the very famous Bee Gees or Boyzone song (as you may choose). These lyrics are known to convey the feelings of a lover to his beloved. This is so true, so pristine, so pure and wonderful. However, this also applies to a lot of other things in life. Human speech is one of the boons of Homo Sapiens as compared to other billions of species on this planet earth. We are expected to speak after deliberations and thought (power of humans) and are expected to convey much more than simple sounds like other animals, for example: the grunting of monkeys (our closest cousin).

In life, we encounter many people in life and have a very complex and twisted relationships with a lot of other fellow human beings. Each one of us has a myriad of complexes, presumptions, models about everyone else that is so complex that it can give a HMM or NN or even the movie matrix run for the money. We build these complexes due to circumstances or situations and we never tend to think beyond them. Call it human shortcoming or limitation, but this is one of the few areas where we don’t focus as much as we would like to.

Words have a huge impact in every step of our life. We make casual remarks that can leave an ever-lasting impression in our lives. We need to be sensitive about what we speak as the words can be used out of context and can create a lot of mayhem as compared to what one expects. It’s a pity that we don’t realize this until we are the receiving end of it. Words have a lot of power and we should be *aware* of the same.

Words.. Words are all I have.. to take your spirit away……

Tamasoma Jyothir Gamaya

Tamasoma Jyothir Gamaya

literally translates to “Lead from Darkness to Light”.

This is a very famous hymn that is often recited in religious schools, GITA classes and other centers of learning. This is one of the triplets that form a combination and is used to refer the paths leading to the enrichment of the human soul.

In hindu culture, Teacher is often referred to as Guru. Further to my earlier post, after Mother and Father (the creators) comes Guru (the developer) as God. Different possible meanings have been attributed to the word Guru, but the one which I specifically believe is Gu = Darkness or Ignorance and Ru = Remove. Hence, the statement at the starting of the post can be referred to Guru also.

Guru is the one who shows the path to enlightenment through a process of self-realization, knowledge and showing the path towards the ultimate goal. In the Gurukul culture, a Shishya’s (Student/Ward) ultimate Guru-Dakshina (Payment of fees) to the Guru would be carry forward the legacy of his Guru. This the basic building block of Hindu/Indian Educational System.

In Corporates, we do observe the titles as Manager, Leaders, Mentors, Seniors etc.. but I haven’t seen anything close to be a Guru. The closest I have observed is Mr. Subroto Bagchi who calls himself a Gardner. I was amazed by the title and tried to think about the reasoning behind the same. My interpretation would be that Mr. Bagchi considers himself responsible for the saplings (younger generation) and is personally involved in the growth of these saplings into sturdy trees (Industry Leaders). Hats off to you sir, for you are a true inspiration.

Guru’s definition is not limited for knowledge only. Anyone who can show us our blind spot and help us realize the same for correction is Guru. It can be a co-worker, spouse, the lift janitor or even our children. At times, kids turn out to be excellent observers and provide a very unbiased data-based feedback.

I have had the luxury of crossing paths of many people whom I would definitely classify as Guru. It may not physically be possible to enlist all of them, but I do quote a few examples and the reasons why I consider them to be true Gurus.

– An individual X with whom I used to share my bus-ride with. He left a well-paying corporate job to take up a cause which is very dear to his heart, social empowerment. He actually is currently working in some remote corner without any pretensions about life or fears of future. He truly believes in following what the heart wanted and hence, has embarked on a path that most of us only wish, but don’t have the courage to walk on.

– An individual Y, with whom I had the pleasure of working in the same team. The actual personality of this person is reflected once he decided to part ways with the organization. In short, he had resigned. However, the true story started after this event. This person stayed up late into the night, worked on weekends and pushed every bit to reach an organizational goal that was key for the team and organization, all of which was in his notice period.

I have come across numerous individuals who turn/shut themselves off once they decide to leave, let alone a resignation. However, this individual kept pushing till his last day to achieve an important goal. As Cosmic Law/Justice would have it, the milestone was reached on his last day in office.

There are only a few examples and I will definitely quote many more in future. I wish I have the luck to keep crossing my paths with these enlightened individuals.

Mathru Pithru Devoo Bhava

Mathru Devoo Bhava,
 Pithru Devoo Bhava,
Acharya Devoo Bhava,
Athithi Devoo Bhava…

Translated literally, one can interpret the aforementioned sanskrit couplet as

I see thy mother as God,
 I see thy father as God,
 I see thy teacher as God,
 I see thy Guests as God…

This is the first lesson taught to any hindu kid in India and across the world. Majority of us will have this principle ingrained in our genes and our parents hope that we live out these very sacred words. We see GOD in each and every one of us and this is the basic principle of hinduism. Many interpretations exist, but I tend to simplify (because of occupational tendencies) and I believe this is the one of the best summary of the same.

Now, sample the following incidents:

Incident 1: Some time back, I was sitting in my doctor’s clinic with my dad and I see a 80-year-old man going in for check-up. Initially, I am tempted to think someone is accompanying him, but to my horror find that the elder has come on his own. Checking his background from different sources, I find that the elderly statesman has 2 children who are extremely well to do and settled abroad. Father doesn’t want to go abroad and Children don’t want to come to India. This person has to fend for himself and hence, takes care of himself.

Incident 2: Couple of days back, I am travelling to office with my music on and book in hand. Having a tendency to look at the passing road, I observe a heart-wrenching moment. An elderly couple (maybe into 60s) are making their way on a footpath. The mother can’t walk on her own and is clinging onto her husband for support. Slowly and steadily they walk towards their destination. This is an incident that was caught in flash of a second and haunted me.

These are a couple of incidents that are etched into my memory. These aren’t the only ones which are observed and I would be very categorical that my family is also filled with similar incidents. All these incidents show helpless aged parents who are left to their own mercy and face hardships in life. This begs a lot of serious questions which are revolving in my head.

Most of us in 30s and 40s have a middle-class upbringing. I can generalize that may be 5% of today’s population was born rich, may be another 30% had a luxury of having educated parents. But majority of us would definitely agree that our parents have gone through a lot of hardships to bring us up and have spent their best years in ensuring that their progeny have the best of education. Middle class India’s dream was realized through the century old belief that education is the path to salvation and is the way forward in life.

When we see the incidents like the one quoted above occur, one is tempted to ask the dirty question. Isn’t the duty of the children to take care of their parents in their  old age? Though the question is simple, I am very clear that there isn’t one right and wrong answer and the question has multiple dimensions attached to it than one single statement.

TRUE, we that as a society are moving towards being a materialistic nuclear society and we are more focused on our goals than ever-before. However, do our goals matter more than those 2 people who are the very reason for our existence in this world?

TRUE, we are children would like our parents to stay with us. However, they do have preferences of their own and we should respect their sentiments. Shoudn’t we respect their sentiments and make some adjustments?

TRUE, the generation has transcended many emotional, financial barriers in life and we may be financially independent when we come to that stage of life. However, in a country like India where there is no concept of central social security or federal assistance (in financial terms), a large portion of this section of society is without any financial assistance. I do acknowledge the fact that some of these respected elders do have their own financial independence being part of the public/private sector. However, my generalization is over a large section of society who don’t have this luxury. Isn’t it our responsibility to provide this basic facility to our parents?

TRUE, parents can be very adamant about relocation or being independent. However, subscribing to their views can’t be more important than their well-being. We as children should do whatever is necessary for their well-being and comfort rather than just being mere spectators.

Whenever these elders are left to cater to themselves, it stirs up a lot of emotion in me and I feel frustrated. Are we so busy that we can’t take care of our parents? Don’t we remember that time isn’t on our side and we soon will be on the same side of fence and maybe with more drastic consequences and situations? What if …….

Having said all the above, I do need to quote one individual known  to me very closely. He took extreme care of his mother who became sick for a period of one year (which included his marriage) and had many emotional challenges along the way. He and his wife were very dedicated towards his mother and unfortunately, we lost her recently. The one thing I remember about meeting this person everyday is his cheer and dedication towards his mother. I do realize that his mother was blessed with such a wonderful son and I wish many more parents are blessed with such children. My friend, I salute you for you embody the hymn quoted in the first paragraph of this post.

Announcement: Frequency Mismatch

Lately, I have been focusing on jotting down some programming tit-bits and been more C-programming oriented. However, the purpose of this blog is to be more than a technical dump of what I have seen in my industry. This blog is intended to be a “Running Commentary of life as I see it“. Hence, with this focus and re-alignment, I would like to announce a new category of posts called “FREQUENCY MISMATCH

In Frequency Mismatch, I would like to reflect upon life’s paradigms, the world as it enacts this life and the basic constructs of human mind and ethics. This is definitely not a moral science class though it may appear to be so, but a more introspective look at life’s vagaries and how we humans respond to it.

The idea of the posts in this category is definitely not to pass judgments or be prescriptional, but be inward looking, fact-finding and finding the middle path. I would like to request all you kind hearted people who read my posts, to leave a comment or two and contribute to the discussion. I will definitely include all the posts in follow-on posts and try to provide my perspective about the same.